I'm averaging using my camera about once a month this year. Twice if I'm really pushing my luck. You just don't have any idea just how depressing it is opening up Lightroom and realising you've only attended five gigs this year. It's August. I used to be at a gig at least fortnightly but now it's not even once a month. Making my calendar would have me spending a good week or two trying to narrow it down to just 12 photos, this year I don't even have enough photos to worry about pretending to make one. People always seem surprised I have severe chronic depression but a week ago I finally got to do an adult smash cake shoot. I always thought it would be fun to do and have tried for the last 8 years to do one without much luck. People are always keen until it actually comes down to doing it. I always thought it would have been a great concept to use in my business as something new and fun to offer clients. Earlier this year my model friend Bec turned 30 and when I saw her post about wanting to do a photoshoot for her birthday I jumped in with SMASHCAKE! I didn't actually think she'd be interested but she was and to be fair a large part of me put it off for so long (other than never having money to do things) was simply because I would have loved to use this as a photography service and I know I can't now. I had a "why bother?" attitude. Then I saw someone else was looking for one and decided fuck it let's do this and I booked the studio for 2 hours for two smash cake shoots.
Where does the anatomy part come in? Here...
11am - Fun fact but just getting ready to go out triggers back pain. Leaning over the bathroom counter to apply mascara actually hurts. Sure I could not wear makeup but I hadn't slept yet again that night and wanted to at least try to look like a functioning human and preferably not like a sleep deprived serial killer. If I put a t-shirt on and decide nope that's not working out, lifting my arms up continuously also triggers pain pretty quickly (which is only going to happen later with my camera). I've considered just buying everything with buttons. It's also why I tell myself it's ok to own around 100 t-shirts so I don't have to do my laundry often. I'll avoid arm lifting as much as possible. From there I've packed up my backpack and caught an Uber to the train station. Normally I try to avoid that because $$ but it decided to pour down with rain as I was about to leave for the bus. Then it stopped and it didn't rain again all day. Typical. My backpack is around 5-7 kilos but if I wear it properly it's not too bad. When I take it off though it's a whole different matter since the bag brings your shoulders back into a position that's unnatural for mine. I noticed that when I went urbexing with a friend last year. I wore the backpack the entire time and didn't feel any problems until I took it off to get into the car. That was a whole lot of awkward trying to act like I'm totally fine when I wasn't. So my point is backpacks are cool, but don't wear them too long.
1pm - I'm hopping on the train which if I'm lucky has regular seating so I can sit sideways. I didn't realise I did this until I attempted driving lessons a couple years ago and it hit me fast I don't sit straight in seats ever or if I do (like in a car if I'm in the front seat) it's for a very short time. I struggle with long trips and a long car ride can simply be from one side of Perth to the other. Sitting against chairs is just seriously uncomfortable.
2pm - I'm at the studio waiting for the others to arrive. I take this moment to have a sit down for 10+ mins. Things aren't too bad but I've learned the hard way to take any break I can along the way. Pain Management refer to this as pacing. The studio I had booked was upstairs and honestly I was expecting to have epic knee problems but despite the 5+ trips up and down them my knee held up. Even now my knee is fine. Actually amazed. On a normal day it doesn't like having to walk down the 11 steps outside my front door. Back pain was kicking in though so I took a panadiene forte and crossed my fingers today wouldn't include chest pains which is a fabulous side effect of my painkiller medication - MORE PAIN.
5pm - Officially finished cleaning up and leaving. It wasn't like there was a lot to clean up, I was just moving pretty slow because of my back. Backpack was back on and I realised the trip home is really going to suck. Things hurt more than I realised now that I've stopped. I walked back towards the mall and got on the train. I avoid sitting on the "disabled/pregnant" people seating due to the fact people love to be judgemental because they have this belief that if they can't see a problem then one doesn't exist. I sat close to them though, up against a rail to avoid the back of the seat and spent the next 30 minutes trying not to cry from how much pain I was in. I was scared to move too much because past experiences have shown severe pain and sudden movements can cause my spine to lock up. I spent the train trip with the amazing medical advice I've received over the last two years: "avoid triggers" and "lay down horizontally when you're in pain". You can't lie down on a train..or during a trip to the shops..at a concert.
6:30pm - I was finally home. I felt it was socially acceptable to lose my shit at that point and wished I owned a bath. This is the part where people love to tell me I need a shower chair and I want to punch them for being stupid. My legs work. My legs are not the problem. Being upright is the problem. My back muscles are struggling to keep me upright any longer. Everyone knows a bath means soaking your muscles and relaxing your body yet common sense goes flying out the window for most when it comes to offering advice to issues they know nothing about. I guess I should go snort a crystal and chill the fuck out. So I took the specialists advice and I had a hot shower and went to bed with a heat pack. An hour later I'm like well that was fun but it didn't work. I didn't want to take more codiene because if I'm going to be honest I just don't think it works or maybe I'd just be in more pain if I hadn't. I don't know.
8pm - I remembered I had this deep-heat style rub I was given back at Christmas by model-friend Amanda. I'm not sure what I did to deserve this woman in my life but she gave me this cream to try for back pain, an anti-inflammatory tea which tastes awful (I'm not a tea or coffee person) but I saw you could use the tea in biscuit recipes so I did that instead and for my birthday a diffuser to see if it would help with my insomnia problems. She's more helpful than the five "specialists" I've seen. I used to shares all the chronic pain memes about crystals/oils/yoga but I have to take oils off of there. Lavender makes me super tired, apparently not tired enough to sleep because I'm broken but it's doing something! So anyway, I used the cream and that worked enough that I could swap my pain score from 8 to an uncomfortable 4. The thing with chronic pain is what had you a crying mess 2-3 years ago doesn't anymore because you're used to it. If someone asks how you are I say fine because this is what fine is now. I don't remember what life was like prior to this. The only problem was I became aware of my neck being sore now. As my physio pointed out - your brain can only process one pain at a time. The rest of the night was just netflix and no chill while I didn't get any sleep again.
I managed a couple of hours sleep but not much. I still felt like shit when I got up. My neck was stiff, my lower back hurt and my quadriceps hurt. Leg pain I'm ok with because it's the only pain that makes me feel normal as dumb as that sounds. The day after any photo shoot that part of my thighs would always hurt. It's not about being unfit or anything, but it's like having done 5000 squats in an hour. I guess it's my version of "leg day". I have been described as a monkey during a shoot because I'm up-down-up-down-on the floor-on the couch-down-back up again... It's the one pain that feels normal and like it should be there. Sunday was a write-off.
Neck is STILL sore. It's like I've been assaulted (again. It's like having permanent whiplash), like someone has hit me at the base of my neck. This is what pisses me off the most. Had some asshole not felt the need to treat me like a ragdoll (like seriously DON'T FUCKING TOUCH A PERSON WITHOUT PERMISSION!!) I probably wouldn't have half of my problems but I'll never know for sure. A friend likes to remind me I'm a juvenile for hating this person but I think I have a pretty valid reason. But again, until someones life has been turned upside down or they spend a week in my shoes they're never going to understand what I'm dealing with. Another friend gets uncomfortable if I bitch about this and bitching is a side affect of being in huge amounts of pain. I'm not going to be sorry for that. I actually tried to make peace with the guy for my friends sake but he seems to prefer to act like the victim here because I told him I hate him. Whatever but I look back at that moment now and think why the hell should I be the one trying to make the peace anyway? It's not my fault this happened. Nobody should be making me feel guilty for the actions of another person who has no remorse. They don't care that I'm in pain every week, that I had to give up my studio because of him, my business.. That's why I write these blogs, so maybe someone out there will get an idea of what it's like living with this. I will never know if my medications would have helped my back enough to continue doing things because this neck injury came along and ruined everything. It hurts to turn my head, it feels like everything in my neck is straining, the crunching sounds are spectacular and my head feels like a bowling ball, just this huge dead weight my neck struggles to support. When your only back pain relief is to lie down but your neck hurts so much you have to get the pillow angle just right or you'll inflict more pain is ridiculous. I'm pretty sure this is why my sleep is so bad too, trying to get comfortable can be hard during flare ups but not enough sleep can make pain worse. It's a vicious cycle. Then there's the obvious mental health issues because of the frustration of what your life has become.
So if you see I've done a shoot or see me standing at a gig don't make assumptions about my health. It took me 3 days to completely recover from a 2 hour photoshoot. This is what life is like now dealing with Scheuermann's Disease and a neck injury for daring to try and be productive. I'm using my camera because I've got cabin fever and paying for it for days afterwards. I'm still struggling with the concept of going back to drawing and art. I feel like I'm giving up by doing so but if I'm going to be honest I think I gave up mentally months ago. I just don't care about anything. My motivation to do anything is long gone. The upside to this tale is I remembered I had some number collages I bought a while back for smashcake shoots but I never got to use them. I got to have one photoshoot before having to give up my studio space and haven't done one since. So I decided despite these lovely girls being grown adults you can't say you've had a smashcake shoot without some kind of dorky collage to prove it. So thank you to Bec and Olivia for finally helping me cross off another shoot theme from my list and your patience that day!